I've been working at at my current company for about two and half years now. Every time someone asks me where I work, and I tell them, I have to go into a rather lengthy explanation of the fact that we don't sell paper shredders, but we manufacture and sell automobile shredders. WHAT?? CAR SHREDDERS?? Yes, car shredders, to scrap yards.
So, I thought I'd fill you all in. I got the opportunity to visit one of those scrap yards and took a few pics. So here goes nothin'...
In the picture below you'll see rail cars to the left filled with "scrap" - some of which is flattened car bodies (with the gas tanks removed to prevent explosions in the shredding process), other items are things like appliances and other loose metals. The crane in the back of the picture actually has a flattened car body in its' grasp and is dropping it onto the loading section.
The picture below is taken from the opposite side than the picture above. Above on the far right you see the beginning of the infeed conveyor which feeds the shredder box. Below on the right you see the majority of that same infeed conveyor feeding the scrap into the shredder, which is the tall rectangle in the center on the picture. I know, it looks small, but just wait... I have a picture of me standing right up next to one at our local manufacturer... small is not the word I would use!
Below is the back side of the shredder. All of the smoke you see is from the Water Injection System. We use water while shredding to reduce the heat and the chance of fire (that's it in a nutshell!).
Now the separation process is VERY complex and I know you really don't care, but just to show a little bit of how large a shredder plant is, after the scrap is actually shredder, it goes through several separation processes via different conveyors, air systems, magnets - all of this to clean the scrap and separate the different kinds of metal. For example, copper can make you LOTS of money, so they want to make sure they get all of the copper separated from the rest of the metal, while also separating the "fluff" - the trash, the car seat material that has no metal...
This is just one of the piles at the end of the line. Each separation has its own pile - ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, fluff, etc.Now, remember how little that shredder looked earlier? How about now?